The Iconic Spirits Blog: Recent Releases from Van Gogh Vodka
May 16, 2012
Van Gogh Vodka is produced at the Royal Dirkzwager Distilleries in Schiedam, Holland. The company has been family owned since its founding in 1879 (the “Royal” in the name refers to a Royal Warrant conferred on the distillery by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands), and remains so---a rarity in this era of corporate ownership by multi-national conglomerates. According to Master Distiller Tim Vos, “We believe we are creators of Dutch vodkas with a broad palette of tastes and colors,” and thus Van Gogh “is a name that makes sense for us.” Ironically, 1879 was around the time when Vincent Van Gogh left Holland for good, fed up with an art establishment unable to comprehend a broad palette of colors.
While devoted readers may recall my blog post of February 8 (Flavored Vodka: Stop the Insanity), there’s no doubt that Van Gogh is in the top echelon of vodka producers. Their spirits are first triple-distilled, then infused with natural ingredients for 6-8 weeks in underground tanks. They currently make two dozen varieties of flavored vodka, and even their newest releases (Cool Peach, Rich Dark Chocolate and PB&J) are very high in quality while being a bit far-fetched in conception. Some spirits geeks of my acquaintance have refused to review them, but I (like Vincent Van Gogh) will drink just about anything.
The nose of the Vincent Van Gogh Cool Peach mingles citrus notes alongside aromas of ripe tree fruit. A bracing entry gives way in the mid palate to flavors of peach, lemon zest, anise and mint. The vodka’s rich texture is nicely balanced by the acidity of the fruit, and the flavors linger on a very long finish. Delightful and quite appealing.
When poured into the glass, the Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate resembles iced coffee and exudes scents of mocha and powdered cocoa. The texture is creamy and unctuous on entry, but the chocolate flavors combine with a significant alcoholic kick in the mid palate. The finish is long and slightly earthy, and the overall impression is that of a spiked chocolate milkshake blended with hints of coffee and caramel.
The nose of the Van Gogh PB&J reminded me of visits to the circus as a child, combining whiffs of roasted peanuts and raspberry cotton candy. In the mouth, the two flavors intertwine in an intriguing way: The creaminess of the peanut butter comes first, followed by the bright acidity of the raspberry. The fruit dominates the finish, which is long and tart. Tim Vos supposedly settled on raspberry after sampling a wide range of sandwiches pairing peanut butter with different types of jellies (some jobs are hell).
All three vodkas were bottled at 70 proof (35% alcohol) and have an average national retail of $27.
2 oz. Van Gogh Cool Peach, 2 oz. orange juice, .5 oz. grenadine
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice; shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
2 oz. Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate, .5 oz. agave nectar, 3 oz. lemon-lime soda
Proceed as above
1.5 oz. Van Gogh PB&J, .5 oz. Van Gogh Wild Appel, 1 oz. cranberry juice
Serve on the rocks
ABOUT THE BOOK: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, by Mark Spivak, will be published in November by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot). Writing in an engaging and appealing style, Spivak chronicles the tales of twelve spirits that changed the world and forged the cocktail culture. While some are categories and others are specific brands, they are “the best type of stories: the kind a writer could never make up.”